NOVO Riverside Commons, the two-building development is slated for a 10-acre parcel on Baker Avenue alongside the 300 Baker Ave. Concord Meadows office complex.

Zoning Board voices objection to parts of NOVO development  

March 1, 2024

Although it’s a 40B plan, and the town has little opportunity to alter the application for approval, the Concord Zoning Board of Appeals voiced concern to the developers about aspects of the 200-unit NOVO Riverside Commons, a five-story apartment complex slated for Baker Avenue.  

Traffic entering and exiting the two buildings is a sticking point, with the town and developers each hiring traffic consultants.  

The town plans to tweak the intersection of Main Street and Baker Avenue to ease the traffic at the light. NOVO is modifying Baker Avenue by clearing vegetation and extending the median at the railroad tracks, repainting the road and moving the driveway to the complex.  

One Zoom participant in the ZBA meeting asked whether the developer could make the buildings four stories instead of five. NOVO representative Kevin Hurley said it wouldn’t be viable with a 20% reduction in both market rate and low-income units.  

Board member Elizabeth Akehurst-Moore called the buildings “massive” while acknowledging the town has little influence over the plan.  

“The height is of less concern than the massing,” she said. “It’s one giant facade.”  

According to the 40B law, the town is not prohibited from addressing architecture. “We will keep pushing for ways to soften the mass,” said ZBA Chair Theo Kindermans.  

Elissa Brown noted that the plan shows a kayak rack but no boat launch to the Assabet River. Hurley said the plan would include no access.  

Malcolm Bryant pointed out that the town has a moratorium on installing artificial turf as described in the plan, but the moratorium applies to town land, not private property.   

The public hearing of the ZBA’s Comprehensive Permit application by NOVO, LLC developers continues until a final decision that’s due in April. 

Under Chapter 40B, developers may override local zoning laws in communities where less than 10% of housing is defined as affordable.